The most reliable revolver and the most powerful cartridge at that time! The story of the conquest of the Wild West, courageous sheriffs and cowboys, gold rush, cries of Indians, gangster clashes, Moreau warriors in the Philippines, Texas rangers, heroes of westerns ... Even Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, the general secretary of the CPSU, had a couple of such Colts. It is precisely this revolver that fate has prepared a long and interesting life.
A bit of history ... The design of a revolver, like a multiple-shot short-barreled weapon, originated in the 16th century. In those days, silicon revolvers were technical curiosities and cost incredibly expensive. Everything changed the invention of the primer, sealed on one side of the cabin, filled with explosive. Upon impact on the sealed end of the substance, it explodes and ignites the powder charge. It was on the sale of caps revolvers of the army of northerners during the civil war of the North and South that industrialist Samuel Colt earned his first capital.
At about the same time, Colt's main competitor, the gun company of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, was experimenting with all-metal unitary ammunition. Moreover, the design of the revolver for all-metal was patented by Smith & Wesson. A well-known historical fact: at a time when the American army was still using the Colts, Smith & Wesson sold its very successful revolver for a metal cartridge to the military department of the Russian Empire. In carrying out the “Russian order” of the third-type “Smith and Wesson” revolver, Smith & Wesson has virtually withdrawn from the domestic American arms market. The patent expired in 1872. It was then that the Colt company began to fool around, launching an army revolver in 1873 for the new, most powerful .45 Long Colt cartridge at that time, having eclipsed Smith & Wesson’s more progressive weapon .
The revolver, first called the US Army New Model 1873 Single Action Revolver, became the embodiment of the fantasy of the US military leadership of the time. The shot from this revolver was supposed to "stop the rider on the horse with a shot at the horse." The destructive power of a soft lead bullet (570 J, for comparison, a modern army cartridge of 9x19 mm Parabellum - 350 J) really stopped a galloping horse. True, at very close range.
The name was later reduced to Colt M1873 Single Action Army, and then generally to Colt SAA. When they began to "settle disputes," another one, the unofficial Colt Peacemaker (Colt Peacemaker) was added to these names.
Structurally, the new revolver consisted of a sturdy all-metal frame with a barrel, a drum inserted into this frame, a handle holder screwed to the frame, and a firing mechanism. The barrel is soldered to the barrel with a spring-loaded rod for knocking out the spent cartridges from the drum. The simplicity of the design was the key to phenomenal reliability: many Colts of the late 19th century are still firing.
Trigger mechanism - single action. Before each shot, it was necessary to delay the trigger needle. At the same time, the drum was turned and the battle spring was compressed. Now it was enough just to press the trigger ... The trigger could be put on a preliminary half-platoon by pulling the trigger needle only half. However, this ancient "fuse" was usually not trusted and the chamber opposite the trigger was left empty.
Charging and discharging was carried out through a small "door" on the back of the drum. For this, the weapon must be placed on a safety half-armature. Only then the drum could rotate freely, and in addition, the "door" opens for loading and unloading the weapon. Spring-loaded ramrod, located on the right side of the barrel, the cartridge case was knocked out, and the new cartridge was inserted into the empty chamber. Charging lasted longer than that of Smith & Wesson “tipping models” revolvers, but the reliability of the design was much more valuable in those days.
The drum was mounted on an axis, which was fastened in the frame with an ordinary screw. To clean or repair the drum, it was enough to unscrew the screw and remove the drum from the frame.
Sights unregulated: milled in the frame groove in the role of the rear sight and front sight. For each new pistol had to adapt again. Since the shot can be made only by the cocked trigger, the large shank of the unlocked trigger covers the aiming groove.
Colt Single Action Army has a truly phenomenal reliability and durability. The barrel of an antique revolver, with regular care, withstands about one hundred thousand shots: the soft material of lead bullet and the low speed of movement of the bullet in the barrel almost do not spoil the barrel. The remaining parts practically do not wear out.
The army revolver was produced in two versions: a cavalry model with a barrel length of 7.5 inches and an artillery model with a barrel length of 5.5 inches.
Since the army revolver was large, heavy and uncomfortable, the company released a civilian model chambered for .44-40 WCF for the Winchester Model 1873 “rifle” and a “female model” for the .32-20 WCF. The length of the trunk of commercial models - 4.75 inches.
A special place among the models of the Colt 1873 Single Action Army occupies the Buntline Special with a barrel length of 12 inches. Such a revolver can not be called a shortbore, it is actually a revolving carbine without a rifle.
The weapons proved so popular that the state-of-the-art Colt weapons manufactories could not satisfy domestic demand. I had to order weapons in England. The English version of the Colt Single Action Army is called the Colt Bisley, it was produced from 1894 to 1915 in calibers .32-20, .38-40, .45 Colt, .44-40, .41 Colt - for the American market, and calibers .450 Eley and .455 Eley - for English.
Caliber: .45 Long Colt (military model), .44−40 WCF and .32−20 WCF (commercial models).
Drum capacity: 6 rounds.
Weight: 1048 g without cartridges (cavalry model, 7.5-inch barrel, caliber .45 Long Colt).
This revolver was prepared for the longest life of all the weapons invented at that blessed time.
To be continued…